“Take heed to yourselves, lest perhaps your hearts
be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness,
and the cares of this life, and that day come upon
you suddenly. For as a snare shall it come upon
all that sit upon the face of the whole earth..”
(St. Luke 21.34-36)
A Time to Reap
night, as I sat immersed in writing, out of nowhere
a tremendously brilliant flash filled the room accompanied
instantly by an ear-shattering clap of thunder. There was
no lapse between the lightning and the thunder. They came
together with utter instanteneity. It appeared that a bomb
had exploded against my house. I was startled, unable to
comprehend what had occurred, except that it was breathtakingly
instant, totally unexpected, completely unanticipated. I
had once been told that in thunder we hear something of
the judgment of God. It is primordial, instinctual. It is
foreboding, fraught with the imminent approach of danger,
impending destruction, a distant, muttered anger boding
the approach of something inimical to life. Even an atheist,
I am convinced, hears something of his sins, and something
of judgment, in that portentous rumble that causes the earth
to tremble under his feet. It evokes images that all our
intellectualizing, all our pretenses, cannot shake.
Last night, 153 people from the Greater Boston area
For many of them, death came like that clap of thunder.
Immersed in many things, and thoughtless of any storm, before
they knew what had happened, they had died. They did not
get to shut down their computers, turn off their televisions,
or put their book neatly on the table beside them. It struck
instantly, like a storm ... or a thief ... in the night.
No time for that “Act of Contrition” — indefinitely postponed
until it could not be uttered. No time to say:
“I love you.”
“I am sorry.”
“Tell my brother ...”
In the blink of an eye, it all falls away. No time. Not
even for words. And no bargaining ... no postponing ...
will come and find you busy
It will be stunning
— for it will have found you utterly unprepared. A millisecond
stands between you and death. Hardly time for the realization,
let alone preparation. It will have come.
Mors stupebit. Death has struck.
It came ... and found you busy ...
That Confession you were going to make “someday”; that amending
of your life that you “soon” would undertake; the sins that
you had resolved to renounce “beginning tomorrow”; the pardon
you would seek from someone you had harmed — in a thundering
instant, your pretensions are removed ... and you are stunned,
staggered. You were sure, certain
of the next minute, the next hour, the next day.
So were many — perhaps most — of the 153 people who died
Think about it. Like the 153 people who, as of last night,
are no more among us, chances are that you will wager against
God and still think that you can bargain with death. It
will come to another 153 tomorrow, and, like the 153 before
them, it will find that it won the wager.
It always does.
But you think that you can beat the odds.
You are a fool. There are no odds. There are certainties.
Many. And some you will wish you had come to terms with
long before that clap of thunder.
One of them is God.
And one of them is either being with Him in Heaven
or being forever apart from Him in Hell. And for
you, one of them is certain, too. Ultimately you
will determine which.
There is a time to sow ... there is also a time to reap
Think about it — while you have time.
Or do you ...?
So, ... what are your plans for tomorrow?
Geoffrey K. Mondello
Boston Catholic Journal
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